A report in yesterday's editions incorrectly described the employment status of Curtis R. Wood, who was among four CIA employes killed last week in a plane crash in El Salvador. He was an overt employe of the agency.
A 41-year-old Fairfax County man who worked as a covert agent for the CIA was among the four agency employes killed last week when their plane crashed into a volcano in El Salvador during a surveillance mission, a Florida newspaper reported.
The CIA has refused to confirm the names of any of the employes who died in the crash, but it has verified that Curtis R. Wood of Fairfax was an agent. Wood and two other men believed to have been on the mission were buried in separate services Tuesday.
"We can confirm he Wood was a covert agent employed by the agency," said CIA spokeswoman Kathy Pherson. "We don't have any plans to release the names of the people killed."
Wood, who lived with his wife and two young children in a quiet Fairfax County neighborhood, "died suddenly" on Oct. 19 -- the day of the crash -- according to a brief paid obituary in Monday's editions of The Atlanta Constitution.
Wood, who had been employed by the CIA since 1981, told former coworkers at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida that he was doing "something exciting" in his work for the agency, according to reports in the Fort Walton Beach (Fla.) Playground Daily News.
Some of those former colleagues, who knew Wood when he worked at the base as a physicist specializing in weapons effectiveness, called the newspaper Monday and linked Wood's name to the fatal airplane crash, said Brian Massey, the newspaper's city editor. Those friends described Wood as a "romantic patriot, a guy who knew the risks he was taking," Massey said.
Wood, his wife Theresa, son Scott, and daughter Tasca, resided in a large two-story beige brick home on Bessmer Lane, a cul de sac of new houses in Fairfax County near George Mason University.
Many neighbors said they did not know the Wood family, but those who were acquainted with them were protective of the family. "It's none of my business, really," said one woman who lives across the winding street from the Woods' house. "And I don't want to invade their privacy."
The names of the men believed to have died in the El Salvador crash have been pieced together through news accounts of their funerals at different locations around the country.
The unarmed plane in which the men were riding was assisting the Salvadoran government by searching for antigovernment guerrilla activity and for evidence that arms and ammunition were being shipped to the leftist guerrillas from Nicaragua, U.S. officials have said.
Wood was buried Tuesday in the Atlanta suburb of College Park, where his mother and grandparents live, according to the obituary.
The New York Times reported that the pilot of the craft was Richard C. Spicer, 53, who was buried in Warren, Pa. The newspaper quoted a funeral director as saying Spicer's wife reported he had died in southern Florida, but said unnamed U.S. officials confirmed he died in El Salvador while working for the CIA.
Milwaukee television station WTMJ-TV reported that Scott Van Lieshout, 28, who was buried Tuesday in Cudahy, Wis., was a third victim of the crash. The CIA confirmed his employment with the agency but would not confirm that he had been involved in the plane crash.
Van Lieshout's aunt, Gladys Hutchinson, said that a story that he died in a Miami car crash "was a coverup." She said the family was told the truth, but that the CIA preferred the public to believe the traffic accident version in an effort to protect the secrecy of operations in Central America, the Associated Press reported.